Thursday, 30 September 2010

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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Happy 21st Birthday Michaela

Today my darling daughter Michaela celebrates her 21st birthday. I can scarcely believe she has reached her 'coming of age' - it just seems like yesterday she arrived in my world bouncing in at 10lbs 2 ozs. Clearly, she inherits her stunning good looks, charm, personality, intelligence and, dare I say it, modesty from her father.

Happy birthday, darling. Now, about that £50 you borrowed from me last week...

Monday, 27 September 2010

Bletherings and Natterings

Vicky is a fellow Hearts fan and someone I follow on Twitter. Her blog is well worth reading.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Back After the Break...

For those of us brought up in the 1970s - wallow in some nostalgia...

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Careful, Now...

Travelling into the centre of Edinburgh the other day there was a car in front of the bus I was on that had a couple of notices on the rear window. One said 'Baby on Board' while the other notice of a similar size said 'Child on Board' As we crawled along the Gilmerton Road with all the speed of a slug, I wondered why the driver of said vehicle thought it necessary to display these signs.

Was it to boast of their virility? Probably not. It was more likely to be a plea to drivers behind to slow down as there were two children on board, one of whom was a baby. Yes, I am stating the bleeding obvious here. There may well have been a motorist travelling at ninety miles per hour who was prepared to slam into the back of this car but thought better of it when he/she realised there were small children in the back. I'm sure that made all the difference...

Some parents aren't just content to tell you there's a 'child on board'. No, in their vehicle it's 'princess on board'. Now Edinburgh does have Holyrood Palace but, nonetheless, I never cease to be amazed at how many members of the royal family drive through the streets of Scotland's capital city.

Perhaps it's a sign of the world we live in. Or of me getting old. Or both. When you leave Dalkeith and head for Edinburgh there is a huge roadside sign that declares 'Thank you for driving carefully'. Is the inference here 'thanks, now you can drive like a madman' (but beware the little princess in the car in front...)

Fancying a slice of toast last night I opened a new jar of Sainsbury's Best Value Peanut Butter. I was grateful for the sticker on the jar which listed 'allergy advice' It declared 'contains nuts'.

Now I've had a busy week and my mood wasn't helped by Hearts defeat in the Mickey Mouse Cup the other evening. But it isn't just me - is it....?

Monday, 20 September 2010

Inspiring Capital

Regular visitors to my rants will know that my opinion of local authorities - Midlothian Council in particular - isn't very high. There are countless tales of bungling bureaucracy which would be laughable if it weren't for the fact that we poor council tax payers usually have to foot the bill for such incompetence. However, I feel I should record my agreement with one idea from the City of Edinburgh Council. Whoever thought of the moniker Edinburgh - Inspiring Capital has hit the nail on the head.

You may have gathered from some of my previous ramblings that I love Edinburgh. I've lived here for more than twenty years now and it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I can't think of a better word for it than inspiring. Those of us who work and live in the city and its surrounding areas can be forgiven for taking it for granted but I often take time from the humdrum of everyday life to take in the views of this fabulous city and it does take my breath away (no, that's not down to me being out of condition and struggling up Arthur's Seat...)

For anyone who wishes to visit Scotland's capital city there are countless places to wine and dine and take in all the city has to offer. Like any other city some restaurants are more expensive than others. However, I always find Frankie and Benny's in Edinburgh's Omni Centre at the top of Leith Walk excellent for value with quality food and service (perhaps the fact it's an American diner has something to do with it although thankfully no one has yet wished me to 'have a nice day'...)

And if you do fancy a visit you can get money off their fabulous meals by visiting a site that really can save you money on a variety of goods.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Prince Charles has his Hands Full...

What's the heir to the throne thinking here....?

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Saturday, 11 September 2010

It Will All End in Tiers...

My fellow blogger and Hearts supporter Adullamite has posted on his excellent blog numerous reasons that point out one is Scottish. Among them - you’ve been at a wedding where the footie results were read out. Indeed it is so and I can relate to more than one occasion where such a statement is true - but, sadly, has implications for the marriage.

My father, God rest his considerable soul, was married three times. His first marriage - to my mother, you'll not be surprised to learn - was in 1959. My mother tells me the man she married just a few hours earlier thought it would be a good idea to read out the result of the Grand National held that afternoon (I'll resist the obvious gag about old nags...) Sadly, my parents split a little more than a decade later. By the time my father got married for a third time - in 1993 - his desperation had reached the level where he asked me to be his best man. One of my half-brothers was an ardent Rangers fan and with the reception being at the rather ridiculous time of five o'clock on a Saturday in September, I had managed to obtain both the Rangers and Hearts results and read them out as I was delivering the good luck messages. This didn't go down well with pater or the considerable number of Celtic fans at the reception.

In recent years I was at the wedding of Gordon, a good friend of mine who had the somewhat dubious pleasure of not only being a Hearts season ticket holder but of sitting next to me at Tynecastle. Like my father, Gordon decided to get married during the football season and, inexplicably, when Hearts were playing Kilmarnock meaning we both missed the game. The wedding was held in early afternoon so the game was kicking off by the time we all headed for the reception. By now, mobile phone technology meant I was able to get instant updates from Tynecastle while simultaneously ordering drinks from the bar (if Gordon happens to read this you can insert your own punchline here about what a generous fella I am...) Sadly, I soon wished I hadn't bothered as the phone update displayed the news Hearts had lost a couple of early goals. On relaying this information to the bridegroom, his newly acquired wife overheard and snapped 'that b*****d is giving my Gordon the football scores' I still don't know if Gordon was more aghast at his new wife's response or the fact that Hearts were two nil down. Sadly, Gordon's marriage lasted as long as Hearts chances of lifting the league title...

References to sporting events or broadcasts at weddings seldom go down well. A few years back one of my wife's multitude of relatives got married at Aberdeen Football Club's Pittodrie Stadium (I should add she had the good sense not to get married when Aberdeen were playing there) Being Aberdeen, I'm tempted to suggest many of those at the reception walked out long before the end - but I won't. However, the best man gave the usual nervous, painful speech before adding the last time he saw the bridegroom looking so happy was when he got Sky Sports installed. Aberdonians can have a peculiar sense of humour and my guffaw at such a witty comment echoed round the room as it appeared I was the only person who found it funny. Sadly, this marriage was also to hit rocky seas...

My own marriage was slap bang in the middle of the 1982 World Cup. She Who Must be Obeyed insisted on a June wedding but I saw obvious merit on arranging it for the day before her birthday - and the day after Scotland lost 4-1 to Brazil. Not only did few people want to talk about football thereby rendering any mention of the game in my speech futile, the date meant I could combine future anniversary and birthday presents to the infamous Mrs Smith thereby saving a small fortune.

Like any wedding, it pays to plan ahead. Just don't mention the football. Like the cake it will all end in tiers...

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Life Before the Computer...

Memory was something you lost with age,

An application was for employment,

A programme was a show on TV,

A cursor was someone who swears a lot,

A keyboard was a piano,

A web was a spiders home,

A virus was the flu, (manflu that is)

A hard drive was a long trip down the motorway,

A mouse pad was where a mouse lived,

And if you had a 3-inch floppy .....

well you just hoped and prayed no b*****d found out!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Bat out of Hell

Thanks to my good friend Peggy for the photo - it's a belter!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

FLM Loans...

My youngest daughter Michaela took out a personal loan last year in order to pay for her new car. Like, I suspect, many fathers across the country I agreed to be the guarantor. Michaela has made all her payments on time - she gets paid on 28th of each month and the loan repayment is due on 29th of each month. Until August  - when thought they would be smart and try and deduct the amount due two days early. With insufficient funds in my daughter's bank account - being the day before payday - inevitably FLMLoans found that pushing their luck had failed. Cue two text messages from them to me today - and an email which I have reproduced below - along with my reply.

May I respectfully suggest, dear reader, if you are considering taking out a personal loan you give FLMLoans a wide berth. I've known loan sharks who are less threatening...




Date: Wed, 1 Sep 2010 16:46:44 +0100

Subject: Thought you might like to know...

Agreement - *********

Hi Michael George,

I’m confused. Your debit card isn’t working for August's payment as promised.

I've given your case to Kathryn on my Team. They'll call and text you until we've received the money. This is because we promised to keep you in the loop and we always keep our promises. They'll also write to you if they have to.

I'll email you too. This is because I want you to make the right choice and stick to your promise to pay your loan back on time. You can stop all of this before it starts by clicking here; updating your details and paying the £151.19.

Thanks in advance

Tom @ FLM

P.S. You can call our automated payment robot 24/7 to make a payment too on ***********

FLM is a trading name of Financial Processing UK Ltd.Register in the UK, number 4841153.

Registered Address: Walton House, 56 - 58 Richmond Hill, Bournemouth BH2 6EX.

Registered with the Information Commissioners Office Z8738456.

Consumer Credit License Number 557709


Hello Tom

Sorry for the rather informal address but as you didn't bother to provide your surname I have little choice. In fact you didn't give your job title either so I have no idea who you are. It's fair to say I'm rather underwhelmed by your lack of professionalism.

I am the guarantor for my daughter Michaela Smith's personal loan with your company. Having spoken to my daughter about this she advises that the agreement she has with you is that her payment is taken from her bank account on the 29th of each month. For August you clearly thought it a good idea to try and deduct this on 27th - which is the day before my daughter's salary enters her bank account. Yes, this was a bank holiday weekend but a quick look at the calendar tells me Monday was 30 August.

You sent your email to me at 5.15pm today. This followed two text messages from your colleague Kathryn - again, no surname or job title but this appears the way your company does its business. When you sent your email this was several hours after the money due was deducted from my daughter's bank account.

I find the actions of you and your colleague threatening and bordering on harassment - particularly when you apparently didn't bother to contact my daughter whose account the payments are being deducted from. This is the first payment that has been late since my daughter began the loan repayments last year - and this is through no fault of hers - or mine - as you decided to try and deduct the amount due two days early which is clearly against the agreement my daughter signed.

You should now have received payment and therefore I expect tardy communication such as those I have received today to cease. Further, I would hope to receive a full apology but I don't expect you will even consider this.

What I am considering, however, is reporting you and your company to the Financial Ombudsman for your bullying tactics.

I await your response.

Mike Smith